Last month, a Nassau County, New York trial court ruled that, under the specific facts of the case, the failure by a mortgage lender to name a tenant as a defendant in a home foreclosure proceeding kept the tenant from being subsequently evicted after the foreclosure sale. In addressing the lender's failure to name the tenant in the foreclosure action, the court made these observations (citations footnoted for ease of reading):
- [T]he respondent [tenant] was not properly named as a party in the foreclosure proceedings [...]. "In order to cut off the interest of an occupant of the premises, the occupant must be named as a party in the foreclosure proceedings."(1) The respondent was not named in the foreclosure proceedings and therefore her rights were "not affected by the judgment of foreclosure and sale."(2)
- The respondent, as the sole tenant, is a necessary party to the foreclosure proceeding (see 78 NY Jur. 2d Mortgages §588). As a necessary party who was not named in the foreclosure proceeding, the respondent's rights were "unaffected by the judgment and sale, and the foreclosure sale may be considered void as to the omitted party."(3) Thus, a tenant or occupant who was not named as a party in the foreclosure action retains his or her possessory rights and a right of redemption.(4)
- The foreclosure action has a designation for "John Doe" so as to include any unknown persons. The fact that the respondent [tenant], as a necessary party, was not named or served in the foreclosure proceeding would not be remedied, even if she, as an unknown person, were considered to be a "John Doe." CPLR 1024 [of the New York statute] permits a plaintiff to proceed against an unknown party but would be inapplicable in regard to the respondent. "Before naming a party as a "John or Jane Doe", the plaintiff must establish that it has made a genuine effort to ascertain the name of the party but has been unable to do so."(5) If the plaintiff knew or could have discovered the actual names of the parties named as "John or Jane Doe" with the exercise of due diligence, then the summons naming such parties as unknowns is jurisdictionally defective.(6)
Representing the tenant was the non-profit firm Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee, Hempstead, New York.
For the court decision, see Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. v Williams; 2008 NY Slip Op 51319(U) [20 Misc 3d 1111(A)]; July 1, 2008, District Court Of Nassau County, First District.
(1) Mers, Inc. v. Bernard, 18 Misc 3d 1134(A) [SCt, Nassau County 2008] (citing Douglas v. Kohart, 196 App Div 84 [2d Dept 1921]; and Krotchka v. Green, 121 Misc 2d 471 [Yonkers City Ct, 1983]).
(2) Id. (Citing Polish National Alliance of Brooklyn, U.S.A. v. White Eagle Hall Co., Inc., 98 AD2d 400 [2d Dept, 1983] and Empire Savings Bank v. The Tower Co., 54 AD2d 574 [2d Dept, 1976].
(3) 6820 Ridge Realty, L.L.C. v. Goldman, 263 AD2d 22, 26 [2d Dept, 1999] (see Si Bank & Trust v. Sheriff of the City of New York, 300 AD2d 667, [2d Dept, 2000]).
(4) Id.; and Davis v. Cole, 193 Misc 2d 380 [SCt NY, 2002].
(5) Mers, Inc. supra, citing Tucker v. Lorieo, 291 AD2d 261 [1st Dept, 2002] and Porter v. Kingsbrook OB/GYN Associates, P.C., 209 AD2d 497 [2d Dept, 1994].
(6) Id. citing ABCKO Industries, Inc. V. Lennon, 52 AD2d 435 [1st Dept, 1976]. TenantRentSkimmingAlpha foreclosure faulty notice ScrewUpProcessServing